Red Imported Fire Ant Conference to discuss control and eradication of fire ants

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- March 25, 2003 --The stinging Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) is back in the news by way of a conference, viz., the National Red Imported Fire Ant Conference, which will take place from March 30 through April 1, 2003, at the Palm Springs Riviera Resort & Racquet Club in Palm Springs, Calif.

The conference is hosted by UC Riverside's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and sponsored by the University of California Center for Invasive Species Research, UC Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources, and various agencies and industry organizations.

This is the first time the conference is being held outside the southeastern United States. In California, the RIFA has been seen in many parts of Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus, and Sacramento counties.

The conference brings together scientists, agencies, affected industries, pest control professionals, and concerned citizens from the United States and Australia, who will share their research, experiences, and expertise in their common goal to understand, control and potentially eradicate the red imported fire ant.

"The first major infestation of the Red Imported Fire Ant outside the southeastern United States was detected in southern California in 1998," said Les Greenberg, associate research entomologist at UC Riverside. "An eradication program has been underway since 1999."

Mounds of RIFAs can be found in all types of irrigated property and are, therefore, of concern to people and their pets. RIFAs tend to build nests in open, sunlit, grassy areas. Fire ants aggressively defend their mound. When the mound is disturbed by an intruder, hundreds of RIFA worker ants pour out of the mound and simultaneously begin an attack.

A RIFA is dark reddish-brown in color, and 1/16" to 1/4" in length. A single RIFA can bite and sting its victim repeatedly, injecting a venom that causes a burning sensati

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California - Riverside

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